Garcetti: It’s ‘highly likely’ NFL team will come to L.A.

Mayor Eric Garcetti gestures while addressing the audience at the Clippers Fan Festival on Aug. 18
(Frederic J. Brown / AFP/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Thursday that a National Football League team is “highly likely” to return to the city in the next year.

On an “Ask the Mayor” segment on KNX-AM (1070), Garcetti said that though L.A. doesn’t want to subsidize a stadium, he thinks the NFL is “finally interested” in Los Angeles again. The sale of the Clippers, he said, showed “just how valuable the L.A. franchise could be.”

Los Angeles hasn’t had an NFL franchise for 20 years, since the Raiders and Rams left after the 1994 season. Recently, talk of a return to L.A. has resurfaced, with three franchises -- the Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers and St. Louis Rams -- on year-to-year stadium leases for the first time, unhappy with their current venues.


Previous L.A. mayors have predicted the imminent return of the NFL to the city. Though many in the NFL are optimistic that the league will soon return to the nation’s second-largest TV market, some team owners are skeptical about how much the ball has moved during the last several years.

“It hasn’t gone backwards, but it hasn’t gone forwards,” New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch told The Times on Wednesday after team owners got a update on the L.A. situation from league executives at the NFL’s annual fall meetings in Manhattan. “There seemed to be one or two references to potential new locations, a couple of locations in Carson, but certainly no breaking news.”

Asked how much the city would be willing to cough up to attract a team, Garcetti said: “Exactly zero dollars.”
He also said he isn’t personally spending any time on efforts to bring a team to L.A., but that he has good people on it.

“Football is something a big city should have,” he said.

Garcetti made his comments a day before the Los Angeles City Council’s Economic Development Committee considers a six-month extension of an agreement with developer Anschutz Entertainment Group to find a NFL team to play at a downtown stadium. The 2-year-old agreement, which calls for construction of a stadium next to the Convention Center, is scheduled to expire next week.

Under the terms of the extension, AEG officials would have until April to find a team, according to a report released Thursday by the city policy analysts. If the company lands a team, it would likely receive an additional six months -- or until Oct. 16, 2015 -- to finish negotiating a three-party agreement involving AEG, the city and the NFL.

Garcetti and Councilman Curren Price, who heads the committee, have already said they support the extension. The proposed extension also calls for AEG to work with the city on a backup plan for upgrading the Los Angeles Convention Center if an NFL stadium isn’t built. The 2012 agreement had called for AEG to use stadium revenue, as well as other funds, to build a new wing of the Convention Center.

Councilman Bernard Parks said that after 15 years of working with AEG, “we’re obligated to give them the 6-month extension.”

“We just need to ensure that a robust effort is in place to continue pursuing alternative plans in case a team doesn’t come,” he said.

City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana said he is recommending that city officials and AEG “basically join forces” on development of the backup plan. Under that process, three architects will come up with recommendations for how to upgrade the Convention Center -- possibly with a new 1,000-room hotel.

“We’re going to be directing the architects to do essentially two designs each,” Santana said. One would plan for a hotel on Olympic Boulevard, two blocks north of the Convention Center. The other would focus on construction of a hotel right next to the Convention Center.

The extension proposal is set to go before the full council on Tuesday.

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